At least eight former employees have accused Funomena co-founder and CEO Robin Hunicke of creating a toxic work environment, according to a new report from YouTube outlet People Make Games. The report, which examines three different notable indie studios that allegedly suffered from mismanagement at the hands of abusive bosses, devoted the most time to Hunicke, who is also well-known as an advocate for a more diverse gaming industry.
Initially, People Make Games' reporting focused on Florence developer, Mountains. Mountains' lead designer Ken Wong was accused of toxic behavior by a former employee in 2019, which was backed up by several anonymous interviews with other staffers conducted by People Make Games. However, during those interviews, Hunicke's name kept coming up, which led the outlet in her direction.
Funomena is a small studio that's best known for Wattam, which was designed by Katamari Damacy director Keita Takahashi. In the report, interviewees described Hunicke as "emotionally abusive," particularly calling out her alleged habit of using employee's personal information in order to demean or embarrass them. At one point, according to the report, a former staff member was brought back as a contractor, but only after they were told that they would never have to be in the same room as Hunicke.
An illustrative example: one interviewee said that Hunicke once described an employee as "distracted" because they were "struggling with their sexuality." Other subjects stated that they adjusted their behavior in the gaming industry due to Hunicke's perceived influence, such as not participating in a certain GDC workshop that she is involved in.
"She'd make comments about people's previous messy breakups, people's current conflicts they're having with significant others, her opinions about people's dating lives," one subject told PMG. "...Just, generally, things that had no bearing on the quality of work that someone's doing."
In the report, People Make Games says that a group of current and recently-departed Funomena employees reached out to the outlet to state that Hunicke's behavior continues to be "the instigator of a huge amount of toxicity" at the studio. Hunicke opted not to respond to the allegations.